When Jessica Struckman and Rachel Eaton were offered jobs in the kitchen at Waterhead Bar & Grill, it was meant to be a stop gap to fill the time before they set off on their travels. What they did not expect, was to be inspired to consider the life of a Chef at English Lakes as a new career path.
With guidance from Head Chef Nick, they are learning the art of food preparation – and loving it!
Jessica and Rachel took some time away from the kitchen to tell us about there roles at Waterhead Bar & Grill.
Did you have much previous experience in other kitchens?
I’ve worked in hospitality for several years, mainly front of house in the restaurant. The only kitchen experience I had was with a previous business making sandwiches, desserts and starters for four months when one of the chefs left and the team was short-staffed. But I’ve always had a keen interest in food and cooking and I was looking for an opportunity to work in a good kitchen.
I had some experience working as a team leader in a large national chain of restaurants. The style of food and production is totally different from anything here at Waterhead. Previously I never thought of being a Chef as a career option. I had a very limited experience before, but since working at Waterhead I’ve started to take more interest in food and I’m learning some great skills.
Has it been a steep learning curve?
I love learning new things every day and improving myself. Nick is a brilliant teacher, he took time to take me through everything step by step until I was capable of producing the majority of the menu dishes to a very high standard.
I love to learn new skills. Nick is great as a head chef and takes us through new ways of cooking and preparing dishes. Working in the kitchen never gets boring and is totally different to anything I’ve done before.
What’s the biggest challenge?
This is an all-round, extremely challenging job. We work long hours and there is always something that needs doing in the kitchen
Looking after my section of the kitchen, making sure all the preparation is complete and we are ready for service. I do breakfast shifts by myself now and it can get very challenging when the hotel is busy.
How has working with Nick helped in your training?
Nick is a brilliant teacher. Having worked in hospitality for over 3 years now, I realise that finding someone who will take you through something more than once, and with patience, is a very rare thing. I can now say that I would like to stay in catering indefinitely, it’s something I really enjoy and want I’d like to work my way up the ladder.
He is a great chef who has worked in lots of different kitchens from multiple rosette and Michelin starred establishments. He is always keen to pass all he can of his experience and knowledge down to us, and to see us improve
Nick always takes time to talk to us and to properly show us, step by step, how to create all the new menu dishes, tasting, presenting and always being there to answer any questions and to guide us. He is a very approachable person.
What have you learned since you’ve joined the team?
One of the most important things I’ve learnt is about tasting dishes and seasoning foods, ‘as you can always add but you can’t take away.’ As well as that I’ve had to learn how to work well under pressure, running the pass, presentation skills and lots of Health and Safety stuff through our COSHH training.
On the job I’ve had to learn about being a team player, as working as a team is essential in any well-run kitchen. Lots of learning on food preparation such as how to make fresh pasta, soups, bread and terrines. Also some useful knife skills.
Careers at English Lakes
Here at English Lakes we have a diverse range of venues with their own different menus. We are always on the lookout for talented individuals to join the kitchen teams at our Lake District hotels. If you think you can bring your own unique approaches and flair to our hotels, as well as contributing to the development of our close knit kitchen teams, we could have a role for you.
To find out more about our current kitchen roles and to apply, visit the English Lakes Jobs page.